Without him, Serena and Venus Williams couldn't have become the tennis stars they are. Without him, the Williams sisters wouldn't have dominated women's tennis for the past 15 years. He was their coach, their teacher. And above all, he was their father. He was Richard Williams.

Without him, Serena and Venus Williams couldn't have become the tennis stars they are. Without him, the Williams sisters wouldn't have dominated women's tennis for the past 15 years. He was their coach, their teacher. And above all, he was their father. He was Richard Williams.

Early Lessons

On the bustling streets of Compton in the late 1980s, one could see a crowd of students shouting at two young African American girls. Not far away stood their father, watching with amusement.

In a city where gang conflicts were frequent, such an argument could easily escalate into violence. However, this wasn't one of the typical violent scenes in Compton.

From the beginning, the children were taken to the local tennis courts. This was part of Richard Williams' plan to challenge his two daughters, Venus and Serena, who would soon begin their domination of women's tennis.

"To succeed, you have to prepare for the unexpected, and I wanted to prepare them that way," Williams recalled, explaining why he allowed his daughters to face such hostility. "It would make them stronger."

Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, in the 1940s and 1950s, Williams was no stranger to racial discrimination. He had narrowly escaped death many times. Therefore, as a father, he wanted his children to be ready to overcome any adversity.

And eventually, in 2001, at one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, the Williams sisters faced hostility. When Serena, then only 19, stepped onto the court for the Indian Wells final, she could clearly see the anger of the crowd. The boos echoed, while Venus and Williams himself were insulted as they sat in their seats.

The reason was dissatisfaction over Venus withdrawing from the semifinal match against her sister due to an injury sustained the day before. Some believed that the matches between the two sisters were always arranged by Williams to maintain family harmony.

Later, in her autobiography, Serena wrote, "What I could see was a sea of people—mostly adults, mostly white—standing up and booing loudly..." In an interview with USA Today, Williams also stated, "Some guy said, 'I wish it was 1975; we'd skin you alive.'"

The atmosphere of the Indian Wells final was tumultuous, but Williams knew that his youngest daughter was ready to face it all. And Serena later defeated Kim Clijsters 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Family Values

It can be said that challenges like these only strengthened the bond that guided the Williams family on their path to the top of the world. Serena has won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, while Venus has won 7 despite recent illness and injury. According to Richard Williams, the bond is something he learned from his mother from an early age. "She instilled many values in me," he said. "That is probably my earliest memory, my fondest memory."

Among the many values his mother imparted was teaching him to survive in a world where he was beaten at the age of 5 for giving a dollar to a white cashier.

Thanks to this, what Williams received helped his two daughters become the top tennis players they are today.

Watching TV late one night in 1980, Richard witnessed Romanian tennis player Virginia Ruzici win a tournament with a $40,000 prize, which he described as "too much money for 4 days of play." "I told my wife, 'We have two kids, and we're going to be rich. They're going to be tennis players.'"

A 78-page plan was drawn up early, describing how Venus and Serena would succeed. And a key part of this plan was a script from one of the most turbulent areas in America.

It should be noted that the Williams family was not poor and could live in affluent areas, but they decided that Compton was a good place to educate their children. "There's no place in the world tougher than Compton," Williams said. "Blacks will make you tough, will make you strong. And that's why I took the kids to Compton."

Learning to Rise

Later on, although Venus and Serena moved to Rick Macci's training school in Florida in the early 1990s, Richard believed they would never forget those early lessons. The power, fierceness, and determination on Serena's court were undoubtedly affected by this. However, she also had to have a stronger will to face even greater difficulties. Such as after the Indian Wells incident, the death of her half-sister Yetunde Price in a shooting in Compton, or in 2011 when Serena was found to have a blood clot in her lungs while treating a foot injury in a restaurant the year before.

She demanded surgery immediately, and her family worried about her fate. As a miracle, Serena felt better afterward. However, challenges continued for them. Although Serena continued to dominate women's tennis, Venus fell far down the WTA rankings due to Sjogren's syndrome. And now, the father and former coach could no longer watch them play. He rarely appeared at tournaments these days and believed that his presence was no longer necessary.

However, this does not mean that the bond between father and daughters has grown distant. "Serena often tells me that, without me and Jehovah (mother), she wouldn't have grown up like now. Just that makes me happy. I try to help them believe that they themselves made the effort, not me," Richard said.

Venus and Serena have won 28 Grand Slam singles titles and have 13 Grand Slam doubles titles together. Both are currently ranked world number 1.

As Venus and Serena became more successful, Richard stepped aside from their careers. Patrick Mouratoglou is now Serena's coach, while Venus works with David Witt.

Richard divorced Oracene Price after marrying in 1980. In 2010, he married Lakeisha Graham after meeting in 2009. They have a son born in 2012. Graham is 37 years younger than him and only one year older than Venus.

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